1st of June, 2019 is looking more like the 1st of August! Photo essay within...
If you follow skiing and snowboarding in Australia you’ve probably come across @australian_backcountry. Not necessarily experienced it for yourself – the backcountry that is – but seen its embodiment through the images produced by the man behind the social handle – Jake Sims.
Jake comes on board this season as a Le Bent ambassador and the only thing more exciting is the fact this season is shaping up to be one for the books.
Indeed the official snow depth measured by the folks from the Snowy Hydro Scheme up at Spencers Creek on Tuesday, June 4th measured 71.3cm... the most snow this early in the season since 73.8cm on June 1st, 2000.
But we don’t need to take The Snowy Hydro’s word for it! A bona fide expert on BC conditions as his Instagram handle suggests, according to Jake, it’s the “best start to the season I’ve ever seen.”
THE WESTERN FACES AND A FRESH WINTER COAT.
Just a few days ago, on the first day of June 2019 – Jake and a crew of keen backcountry sliders headed out to the western faces of Kosciuszko National Park. They gave the crowds at Perisher and Mt Buller a miss – despite the resorts opening to the public a week before usual.
There was a different kind of skiing now open to the public, but it required more work than purchasing a lift ticket and offered a whole heap more vertical relief.
Alongside Jake was his friends Erryn Reeder (blue jacket) and Trent Shaddock (black jacket). The trio started their tour at 4am and returned to their homes in Canberra at 9:30pm.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL APPROACH TO BURLY BACKCOUNTRY LINES.
In total, they covered over 40km's, with about 32km's of that on splitboards. We asked Jake how much vert he thought they’d covered? He laughed.
“Not sure on vert, don’t want to think about it haha.”
“We rode from Perisher, so 8km up and 8km back. Followed the snow plough the whole way up. The road was closed so had to take bikes. There were contractors stuck at Charlotte Pass so they were clearing the road to get them out.”
ERRYN REEDER PASSING THROUGH A SNOWED-IN SPENCER’S ON HIS WAY TO THE TOP OF AUSTRALIA.
“The ride was pretty sketchy, fun times trying to navigate black ice with a head torch in pitch black at 630pm.”
Jake and the crew got some of the first turns of the season back in May but says the difference in cover was “night and day”.
“May was more just the novelty of getting out there after the first fall, lots of rocks, lots of ice and we had to keep that in mind when riding. The latest tour was almost like mid-winter, the cover was great, snow was great and you could ride hard for some fun turns.”
Kosciusko received upwards of 90cm of snowfall in a little over a week and it shows.
“Usually [you expect] cover like this after the second or third snowfall, maybe late June early July depending on the year." Said Jake.
"Conditions were great, some of the best snow I’ve ridden in our backcountry. The snow in the "elevator" chute at Club Lake was the best I’ve ever ridden there, lots of stoke after that run.”
The crew also had the pick of the litter out there in terms of busyness. A far cry from the 2000+ people that converged on Mt Buller for the resort’s early opening.
“There were a few people out there getting amongst it but they were coming from Guthega. So glad we didn't have to do the bracken bash from Guth, it's horrendous this time of year. When we arrived at Carruthers we had the whole area to ourselves.” Said Jake.
IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY YOU CAN MAKE OUT THE FIRST TRACKS OF 2019 DOWN THE FAMED ‘SENTINEL’ ... BUT THEY’RE NOT JAKES!
When asked who the culprit was? Jake said the man responsible was, “a solo warrior called John.”
“What a line it was, he smashed it! When we came over the rise and we saw it we were like, ‘whoever dropped that had the run of the day!’”
Follow Jake Sims on Instagram for more photos like these and mountain wisdom like the line he left us with at the end of our interview…
“Any day in the backcountry is better than a day at work.”
Photos: Jake Sims
Words: Matt Wiseman